New Mexico Hospitality Association Announces Finalists for Top HAT Awards

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03 November 0   0

New Mexico Hospitality Association Announces Finalists for Top HAT Awards

Awards recognizes outstanding tourism and hospitality teams and individuals throughout New Mexico.

Albuquerque, NM (November 3, 2015) – New Mexico Hospitality Association, formerly Tourism Association of New Mexico and New Mexico Lodgers Association, is pleased to announce the finalist for the Top HAT (Hospitality and Tourism) Awards. Finalist will be recognized at the inaugural Top HAT Awards Gala – Rising Stars of New Mexico TRUE on November 10, 2015 at Sheraton Uptown Albuquerque. Winners in each category will be announced that night.

Finalist include:

Front-of-the-House Hospitality: Karan Ford (Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder), Paul Romero (Hilton Garden Inn Las Cruces), Ruban Marquez (La Fonda on the Plaza), Valorie Lopez (Holiday Inn Express & Suites Gallup East), and Richard Manis (Sheraton Albuquerque Uptown)

Front-of-the-House Food & Beverage: Alicia Amaya (Hilton Garden Inn Las Cruces), Liz Quinones (Hotel Encanto), and Andrew Garcia (La Fonda on the Plaza)

Back-of-the-House Hospitality: Kim Shutts (Hotel Andaluz), Penelope Gomez (Palacio de Marquesa), and Mat Bolinger (Spectra/Santa Ana Star Center)

Back-of-the-House Hospitality: Jessie Lopez (Hotel Encanto), Estevan Gonzalez (Eldorado Hotel & Spa), and Ryan Numair (Hotel Andaluz)

Outstanding Event: Civic Plaza Presents (Albuquerque Convention Center & Civic Plaza), Las Cruces Country Music Festival (Las Cruces CVB), Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta (TOURSIM Santa Fe), and The PASEO (Taos Fall Arts Festival Inc.)

Outstanding Attraction: Magical Christmas (Cliff’s Amusement Park), Honoring Military, Veterans & Family Gallery (Comfort Suites Gallup), and La Fonda Detours – Docent Art & History Tours (La Fonda on the Plaza).

Best Print Advertising: Los Alamos Visitors Guide (Los Alamos County), Experience Our Tradition (Indian Pueblo Cultural Center), Las Cruces Country Music Festival (Las Cruces CVB), and Silver City True (Silver City Arts & Cultural District)

Best Digital Advertising: Fly to Sunshine (Albuquerque CVB), (Albuquerque CVB), and Las Cruces Country Music Festival (Las Cruces CVB)

Best Broadcast Advertising: New Mexico True Television (CliffDweller Digital), New Mexico Tourism by Rail (Rio Metro Regional Transit District), The Bachelor in Santa Fe & Northern New Mexico (TOURISM Santa Fe), and Carlsbad is New Mexico True (Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce)

Most Innovative Advertising: New Lobby Lounge Naming Contest (Eldorado Hotel & Spa), Town of Taos PR Campaign (Town of Taos), Bring it Home (Las Cruces CVB), and Stomp Your Feet (Las Cruces CVB)

Tourism Professional of the Year: Jennifer Bales (Las Cruces CVB), Richard Holcomb (CliffDweller Productions, LLC), Cynthia Delgado (TOURISM Santa Fe), Jack Brennan (Tour of the Gila Bicycle Race), and Georgia Stirckfaden (Buffalo Tours)

Hospitality Professional of the Year: Kenneth Riege (Comfort Suites Gallup), Rafael Avalos (Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder), Joani Jones (Crowne Plaza Albuquerque), and Andrew Garcia (La Fonda on the Plaza)

“Our people have heart and are treasured,” said Jen Schroer, President/CEO of New Mexico Hospitality Association. “Every person that works in hospitality has such an important role in enhancing the visitor experience and making New Mexico a premiere tourism destination.”

Nominations are being reviewed by Arizona Lodging & Tourism Association, who will be selecting the winners of each category. Each finalist will be recognized throughout the evening along with a feature for the winner. Cheryl Jameson, New Mexico Magazine’s contributing culinary editor, is the master of ceremonies and over two hundred and fifty hoteliers, attractions and business owners are expected to attend the event.

“2014 marked a record breaking year for tourism, adding $6.1 billion into New Mexico’s economy,” stated Ed Pulsifer, Director of Sales for La Fonda on the Plaza and Board Chair for New Mexico Hospitality Association. “Our finalists helped make this happen. They are all well deserving and we want to make sure that our state-wide association recognizes their contributions.”

Event proceeds go to the newly established Hospitality and Tourism Scholarship Fund powered by the Albuquerque Community Foundation. The scholarship fund will support the tourism industry’s growing workforce by helping contribute to the success of countless students pursuing a career in one of New Mexico’s fastest growing industries, tourism.


The New Mexico Hospitality Association delivers decades of combined experience to lead public policy and workforce development strategy for a more prosperous economy. Tourism & hospitality is the state’s premier industry and contributed $610 million in state and local tax revenue in 2014. Tourism had its largest economic impact in state history, injecting $6.1 billion into New Mexico’s economy and supporting nearly 89,000 jobs in 2014. The association represents member interests at the state and national level, cultivates professional development, and targets opportunity to incubate and foster long-term job and wealth creation statewide. Please visit or call 505.506.8624.

Jen Schroer President & Chief Executive Officer
New Mexico Hospitality Association
1420 Carlisle NE, Suite 210
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87110